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Dept sleeps as trees die a slow death

The Tribune , Monday, January 01, 2007
A number of trees on the green belt on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road are dying slowly, thanks to the chemical-laced water discharged by certain dyeing units. Though there are chances untreated water can pollute the underground water, the Forest Department and the Punjab Pollution Control Board continue to turn a blind eye to the problem.
Ludhiana Tribune had taken up the matter in these columns two months ago. The dyeing units continue to discharge pollutants leading to death of trees one after the other.
A visit to the road by a Ludhiana Tribune team today revealed that untreated water was being discharged on the green forest land on the either side of the road.
Industrialists had themselves laid private sewerage system that was being emptied on to the forest land. The untreated water had killed at least a hundred eucalyptus trees while several others are struggling for survival. The trees on a 2-km stretch on the GT Road from near Greenland School up to the Octroi post on face death.
The Husband of councillor of Ward No. 4, Mr Ashok Kumar, said the water was being discharged by the dyeing units and the Municipal Corporation had nothing to do with the problem. They had asked the dyeing units to stop the practice, but to no avail, he added.
‘‘The units collect water in pits on their premises and later discharge it into water. We have asked them not to do so. Either the PPCB or the Forest Department can do something in this regard,’’ said Mr Ashok Kumar.
‘‘Owing to accumulation of toxic water, the trees are drying up and branches falling. People take away the wood as soon as a tree crumbles down and nobody comes to know that there used to be a tree. Over the months, just a few trees have left, and these too are on the verge of death,’’ said a tea vendor.
Despite repeated attempts, District Forest Officer, Mr Tushar Kant Vahera, was not accessible. Just a month ago, he had claimed that he had ordered an inquiry into the death of trees and action against the defaulting units if they were proved guilty.